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Any time I am working with a new client who has had serious health issues, there are specific pieces of information I need that are essential to my ability to provide an accurate quote. On rare occasions people will know the critical information, but most of the time it has been filed in their minds as doctor talk and left to the archives of their medical records.

With cancer it is imperative to know the specific type of cancer and the stage and grade of the cancer. With diabetes it is imperative to know the hbA1c, a long term measure of glucose levels. With the cancer the information is contained on the pathology report and in the case of diabetes, the most recent full blood profile.

Whenever there has been a heart attack or coronary artery disease (CAD) that leads to either bypass surgery or angioplasty, the critical information is contained on a stress test. Generally a stress test will be done 6-12 months after a cardiac event just to check on the amount of damage that was done and how well the heart is performing.

Usually either a stress echocardiogram or a nuclear or thallium stress test will be done. These stress tests are known as imaged stress tests because rather than just graphs that you would see on a stress ekg, the tests provide data and images which make it easier to pick up on subtle abnormalities.

Probably the key piece of information that comes from these tests is the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). This is a measure of how efficiently blood is pumped out of the left ventricle and is considered a good measure of the overall strength of the heart, or put another way, how much damage the heart has suffered. In a normal healthy adult an ejection fraction would be between 65% and 70%. Anytime the LVEF is below 50% there is a very high likelihood that a life insurance application would be declined.

Bottom line. Successfully shopping for life insurance after serious health issues takes teamwork. You need a good, knowledgeable independent agent, but you also need to be willing to do your homework. Providing accurate information to life insurance underwriters during the informal trial or quoting phase will help to ensure no surprises with the final outcome.